Hepatoprotective Drugs

Hepatoprotective drugs (hepatoprotectives) are often prescribed medications. It is a broad group of substances, which should have protective and regenerating effect on the liver cells.


Hepatoprotective drugs are used in patients with various liver diseases. These conditions include liver damage in chronic alcoholism, in other causes of liver inflammations, liver cirrhosis or acute overdose of drugs toxic to the liver. We usually administer hepatoprotectives as a support therapy in patients with elevated liver tests no matter the cause of their elevation.

Active ingredients

There are several active substances. I would like to mention here the most commonly used:


This is an extract of a plant known as milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Silymarin counteracts the oxidative stress and improves the defense of hepatic cells against different toxic substances.

Essential phospholipids

This is a mixture of unsaturated fatty acids. They should affect the membranes of liver cells, induce their regeneration and improve their resistance to harmful factors.

Ursodeoxycholic acid

This compound protects the liver cell membrane from the effect of bile acids and enhances the flow of bile. It is used in conditions with chronic disorders of bile outflow such as in primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and others.


This substance is important for enzymatic processes. Its usage has a positive effect on liver metabolism and on elimination of harmful substances.


Hepatoprotective drugs do not have significant side effects. Sometimes, they cause mild digestive problems. On the other hand, their effectiveness is somehow controversial and disputed. It is important to realize that hepatoprotectives are more or less supportive drugs and their usage should be always accompanied with proper dietary measures including proper nutrition and avoiding alcohol and other hepatotoxic substances.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources